National Geographic : 1970 Feb
W hen machines displace people Through theyears, Ruth Anderson's husband had worked the sweltering cotton fields around Isola, Mississippi. In late spring Ed Anderson chopped cotton--hoeing weeds and thinning the plants. Summers he picked the cotton at $2.50 a hundred pounds. Between having her nine children, four of whom she tends above in the family's one-room shanty, Mrs. Anderson worked beside her husband. During picking season they brought home as much as $10 a day, and they got by. Then onto the fields rolled ma chines (left) that harvested as much in a day as could 80 men. Picking jobs vanished. Herbicides came on the market to kill weeds; they killed the chopping, too. Lacking a skill for steady work, the Andersons joined the hapless millions of rural refugees who, uprooted by mechanized farming, often drift to big cities seeking jobs. To help stem this flow, civil-rights groups, foundations, and the National Council of Churches support a self help community called Freedom City near Greenville, Mississippi. Deter mined to better his lot, displaced cot ton worker Acie White (right) learns to read and write as he also masters the plumbing trade.